No other state of the forty-five presents so many striking antitheses as Missouri. Though most of the parallels which run through Missouri intersect Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois on the east, and Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California on the west, there is generally a broad divergence between it and the others in politics, Missouri being Democratic, and the rest of these usually Republican, except as the rise of Populism and the appearance of the silver issue have temporarily in jected cross currents in politics, and have recently put most of the states west of the Missouri constructively on the Democratic side. While, in its aggregate vote, Missouri is reliably Democratic, its principal city, St. Louis, has been more uniformly Republican for years past than any other large town in the United States except Philadelphia.
On an east and west line, Missouri is situated near the middle of the country, and belongs socially and industrially in the same group as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Kansas, yet it is generally called a Southern state. In the popular conception Missouri figures as an agricultural community, yet it has a greater variety of mineral products than almost any other state. Few states surpass it in the aggregate of its mineral output: fewer still exceed it in the production of its mills and factories,
Humorous ideas frequently associate themselves in the popular mind with the name Missourian, very much as they have since the days of Irving and Paulding with the name Dutchman as he figures in the history of old New York. Nevertheless, the Missourian belongs to a state which stands not far from the head of the forty-five in the proportion which the number of its pupils in the public schools bear to the aggregate population, in the per capita amount of money spent on its educational institutions, and in the ratio which its church attendance bears to its inhabitants. It differs in no perceptible degree from the other states of the North and West in the qualities which determine the balance and sanity of a people.
What are the causes of these contrasts between the reputed and the actual as relates to Missouri ? They are due to peculiarities of ethnology, location, climate, and social development. In setting forth these causes the geology and mineralogy of the state will have to be touched on, and the race ingredients which went to make up its early settlers will have to be mentioned. Missouri must here be dealt with sociologically, economically, and psychologically. Incidentally, too, a little of the romance and the picturesqueness in its life will have to be glanced at.
Four times Missouri has changed its flag. It was Spanish territory in the days of Charles V. With the rest of Louisiana it was claimed for the France of Louis XIV. by La Salle in 1682, when he sailed down to the mouth of the Mississippi, and France subsequently occupied it. Louis XV. ceded it to his ally Charles III. of Spain in 1762, at the end of the Seven Years’ War, to keep it out of England’s hands. Bonaparte coaxed or coerced Charles IV. to return it to France in 1800. Want of money to enable him to prosecute his wars, fear that England might seize it, and dread that even if he could keep England out of it the Americans might wrest it from him, constrained Bonaparte to sell it, with the rest of the Louisiana territory, to the United States in 1803.
Soto, marching northward and westward, passed into the present state of Missouri in 1541, near where New. Madrid now stands, pushed onward to the Washita and the White rivers, and then turned southward. Coronado, marching northward and eastward, about the same time, penetrated to a point close to the Missouri River, not far from Missouri’s western line. Both these Spanish conquistadores were searching for gold, — Soto seeking a northern Peru, like the one he, as a lieutenant of Pizarro, helped to conquer ; Coronado, hunting the “ seven cities of Cibola,” and chasing Quivira’s golden myth, aimed to repeat Cortez’s conquest, and to win another Mexico in the heart of North America. The locality, Missouri, at which the paths of these two Spanish adventurers — Soto coming from the Atlantic side of the continent, and Coronado from the Pacific’s verge — crossed, or where they would have crossed if they had been pushed a few score miles farther, was destined to witness a greater meeting and mingling of the races of the earth than any other part of the New World.
In those distant days when Soto in Missouri and Coronado near Missouri’s western border were, by their exploits. penning the preface to the history of the United States, nearly a quarter of a century was to pass before Menendez should lay the foundation of St. Augustine, the oldest permanent settlement in the American republic. Two thirds of a century were to elapse before Gosnold, Newport, and their companions at Jamestown should start the first stable English colony on this side of the Atlantic; before Champlain, at Quebec, should make the first feeble beginnings of French power in the western hemisphere ; and before Henry Hudson’s Half Moon should sail into New York Bay, and give Holland the claim on which to build the shortlived colony of New Netlierland. It was more than three quarters of a century ahead of the days when Carver, Bradford, Miles Standish, and their compatriots stepped from the Mayflower on to Plymouth Rock.
One fact connected with Soto’s entrance into Missouri deserves especial mention as a historic precedent. He enslaved most of the Indians whom he captured in the Mississippi Valley, as, in some cases, Velasquez had done in Cuba and Cortez in Mexico. Thus Soto carried slaves into Missouri two and a half centuries before the United States government under the Constitution came into existence, and three and a quarter centuries before the Emancipation Proclamation was issued and the Thirteenth Amendment adopted.
In connection with the early visitors to this region in the French period a similar fact can be cited. Sieur Renault, one of the directors of the Mississippi Company, which took control of affairs in Louisiana after Crozat surrendered his charter to the colony which Louis XIV. gave him, received grants of land in 1723 in Missouri, and, as told by one of the annalists, he took with him “ many families who had received concessions of lands in the neighborhood of Kaskaskia, and who brought with them a number of negroes granted to them by Bienville, for the purpose of cultivating those lands.” By these concessions, which extended to the west side of the Mississippi as well as to the east side, negro slavery, three quarters of a century after Soto brought Indian slaves into the territory, made its appearance in Missouri.
The alternating possession of Missouri in its early days by Spain and France determined the race ingredients, the religion, and the customs of its first settlers. The slavery which was taken into it by its Spanish and French occupants, and by the earlier immigrants from the eastern side of the Mississippi Valley and from the Atlantic seaboard, dictated its attitude toward many of the great issues which arose in the public life of the country until the Civil War, and it has had an effect on the politics of the state to this day.
Delassus, Spain’s last governor of Upper Louisiana, had a census taken in 1799, which showed that the white population of the dozen settlements constituting the present state of Missouri was at that time 4948, the free colored were 197, and the slaves 883, or 6028 inhabitants in all. St. Louis, which had been founded in 1764, had 925 inhabitants, white and colored, free and slave. St. Charles, a little younger than St. Louis, had 875, while St. Genevieve, the oldest town in Missouri, had 949 population, the largest number of inhabitants of any settlement in Upper Louisiana.
On the eve of the time when Louisiana became United States territory nearly one out of every seven of Missouri’s inhabitants was a slave. After annexation in 1803 Missouri’s population increased rapidly, tripling between 1810 and 1820, much more than doubling between 1820 and 1830, and also between 1830 and 1840, and nearly doubling between 1840 and 1850 and between 1850 and 1860. The aggregate number of inhabitants in 1860, the last year of a national enumeration in which slavery existed, was 1,182,012, of which 114,931 were slaves. Missouri advanced from the twenty-third in point of population among the states and territories in 1810 to eighth in 1860, while ever since 1870 it has held the fifth place.
At the beginning of this period, the slave ingredient of Missouri’s population increased somewhat faster than the free element. The slaves, which numbered a little less than one out of every seven of the inhabitants at the end of the Spanish domination, were slightly in excess of one out of six in 1830. Then they began to decline, and had dropped to a little less than one out of ten in 1860. The proportion of the state’s negro population has continued to shrink since emancipation, and was as one to seventeen in 1890.
The slaves in Missouri gained on the free element at the outset, because most of its early immigrants after annexation were from the slave states, particularly Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. Many of them carried slaves with them. The further introduction of slavery into the Northwest Territory (the present states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and that part of Minnesota east of the Mississippi) was forbidden by the ordinance of 1787. This restriction helped to divert to Missouri in the beginning many immigrants from the older states who otherwise would have gone into the more accessible territory north of the Ohio. A large majority of the Missourians, whether they had slaves or not, expected that their locality would be a slave state. Naturally the South stood with them. It aimed to preserve the balance between the number of slave and free states, so as to defeat in the Senate all measures directed against slavery, the North being dominant in the House, in which representation was based on population. Counting Alabama, which was let in in 1819 after Missouri first asked admission, there were twenty-two states, eleven free and eleven slave, before Missouri entered.
Most of the North, on the other hand, was determined that no more slave states should be created. It was a sectional and not a party question. Practically there was only one party after 1816, the last national canvass in which the Federalist party participated, and the Democracy had the entire field to itself. A Northern Democrat, Tallmadge of New York, to the bill for the admission of Missouri, offered, in 1819, an amendment that no more slaves should be let into Missouri, and that the children born of slaves in the state after it was admitted should be free after reaching the age of twenty-five.
A contest then began which startled Jefferson, as he declared, “ like a firebell in the night,” which lasted two years, and which convulsed the country. Twice the House, in which the North was predominant, passed the bill with the anti-slavery proviso, but the restriction was each time defeated in the Senate. The latter at last yoked Maine, which was ready for admission, with Missouri, the South agreeing to let Maine in as a free state if the North would allow Missouri to come in with slavery. Then an adjustment was proposed, by a Northern Democrat of pro-slavery proclivities, Senator Jesse B. Thomas of Illinois, by which Maine was to be admitted as a free state ; Missouri was to enter with slavery, but slavery was to be excluded from all the rest of the territory bought from France in 1803 north of latitude 36°, 30', which line was Missouri’s southern boundary through part of its length. This arrangement, which the House fought for a time, but which it at last (in 1820) accepted, was the Missouri Compromise proper. Missouri’s constitution containing a clause which required the legislature to prevent the entrance of free negroes into the state, another contest was precipitated in Congress. This was at last settled by a compromise offered by Clay, under lyhich Missouri agreed not to shut out anybody recognized as a citizen by any state, and at that time negroes were recognized as citizens by several Northern states. Thus, by the Thomas adjustment, supplemented by the Clay concession, Missouri was thrust northward as a cape of slavery into a sea of freedom.
The slavery interest drew Missouri toward the South, the slavery section, and toward the Democracy, the party which was generally predominant in that region. Other influences — mineral production, internal improvements at the national expense, and the tariff — drew Missouri in the opposite direction, harmonized it with the West, to which, by geography and the character of its principal products, it belonged, and built up within the state a considerable following for the various parties which successively were the antagonists of the Democracy throughout the country.
“ Dig for lead instead of silver. The lead that you will get here will bring you more silver than you will ever find in these rocks and hills.”
These words were said to have been addressed to Renault, the director of the Mississippi Company already mentioned, while he was prospecting for silver in Missouri, in 1723, with a force of negro slaves. The advice was taken. Lead mines — situated in the southeastern part of the present state, some of which are still being worked, a century and three quarters after Renault’s days — were opened, and rude smelters were constructed. The product was carried to the Mississippi on pack horses, conveyed across the river to Fort Chartres, in the present state of Illinois, sent down to New Orleans in keel or flat boats, and then shipped to the outer world.
Renault, the Frenchman, had been vainly seeking for gold and silver in Missouri for a year or two at this time, as Soto, the Spaniard, had been a century and three quarters earlier. Here, however, Renault, more than fifty years before the United States government was founded, eighty years before the Missouri region became part of the United States, and nearly one hundred years before Missouri became a state of the Union, began the development of Missouri’s mineral resources, whose product, as mined throughout the world, has been of immeasurably greater service to mankind than all the gold and silver which have ever been dug out of the earth. Lead, zinc, coal, iron, quicksilver, copper, manganese, tin, nickel, and many other minerals have been found in Missouri since the days when Renault’s slaves began to make their clumsy and tentative efforts to dig lead. In the production of some of them Missouri takes a high rank.
According to figures furnished to the writer of this article by Mr. George E. Quinby, Missouri’s Inspector of Lead and Zinc Mines, the lead ore product of the state for the fiscal year ending June 30,1899, was valued at $3,146,237, and the zinc ore at $5,974,624, or a total value of the two ores of $9,120,861, a gain of 53.59 per cent over the preceding year. The gain was chiefly in the zinc ore, which was 104 per cent, that in lead ore being 4.48 per cent. It is estimated that the output of the zinc ore in the year (181,430 tons high and low grade ore) equaled a product of 96,650 tons of spelter, while the total production of spelter in the United States was 99,980 tons in 1897, as shown by the government report. Missouri’s output, therefore, of zinc ore in 1899 came within 3330 tons of equaling the country’s entire product in 1897. The inspector predicts that, on the basis of the new fields which are being opened, Missouri will prove to be the richest lead and zinc region in the world.
In area of coal fields, 26,000 square miles, Missouri leads all the states, though in output it falls below many of them. In 1899, according to figures furnished by Mr. Charles Evans, State Inspector of Coal Mines, coal was mined in 36 of the state’s 115 counties, the product being 3,191,811 tons, the largest output in the state’s history, and 12.85 per cent over the previous year. The State Geologist, Mr. John A. Gallagher, tells the writer that in the coal measures in the northwest part of Missouri the character and structure of the rocks suggest large bodies of coal yet untouched, as well as vast accumulations of petroleum and natural gas. “ When fully explored and developed,” he declares, “ Missouri will be the greatest producer of lead and zinc in the world, a large producer of copper, nickel, and cobalt, and always a producer of iron.”
The development of Missouri’s mines had a powerful effect in starting manufactories in the state. “ In despite of the savages, Indian and British,” said the Missouri Gazette of St. Louis, the predecessor of the present St. Louis Republic, July 17, 1813, “ the country is progressing in improvements. A red and white lead manufactory has been established in this place by a citizen of Philadelphia named Hartshog. This enterprising citizen has caused extensive works to be erected, to which he has added a handsome brick house on our principal street, for retailing merchandise. We understand that his agent here has already sent several hundred thousand weight of manufactured lead to the Atlantic states.” St. Louis at that time had a population of about 2000. Major Amos Stoddard, who, as an agent of France, received Upper Louisiana from Spain in 1803, and then turned it over to the United States, and who was made governor of the territory, said, " The inhabitants generally cultivated sufficient cotton for family purposes, and spun and wove it into cloth.”
From these small beginnings Missouri soon rose to prominence as a manufacturing community. The census report of 1890 showed that in that year, in round hgures, the gross value of the products of its manufactures was $324,000,000, and the net value was $147,000,000. At that time 143,139 persons were employed in the manufactures of the state, and the wages paid to them that year was $76,416,364. Using the census figures in each case, Missouri in 1850 stood tenth on the roll of states in the gross value of manufactured products, ninth in net value, and thirteenth in the number employed and in the wages paid. By 1890 it had advanced to the seventh place in the gross and net value of product, ninth in number of persons employed, and seventh in the wages paid. When the latest national census was taken the only states which stood ahead of Missouri in manufacturing were New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, and New Jersey. St. Louis, Missouri’s chief city, stood in 1890, in the amount of capital invested in manufactures, fifth among the country’s cities, being led by New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Brooklyn only.
It was said in an earlier part of this article that when Missouri in 1821 was admitted to statehood it was thrust northward as a cape of slavery into a sea of freedom. It was also thrust westward as a promontory of civilization into an ocean of savagery. Outside of its boundaries were no settlements of any consequence west of the Mississippi except down near the Gulf of Mexico, in the state of Louisiana, and these were far out of the current of western travel.
The state in which the paths of Coronado and Soto, one marching from Florida and the other from the Gulf of California, would have crossed if they had been extended a little farther, became, early in the present century, the meeting place of mightier hosts than were ever arrayed under the banner of these Spanish cavaliers. It was the rallying point of forces which were gathering for the conquest of a continent. Here converged the streams of immigration coming from New England and New York ; from Pennsylvania and Maryland ; from Virginia and the Carolinas ; from Louisiana and the other Gulf states, reinforced by contingents from every important country of the Old World. Within this remotest outpost of civilization were assembled the most daring, restless, and resourceful of all the races under the sun.
From St. Louis started Lewis and Clark in 1804 up the Missouri and down the Columbia to the Pacific, to learn the wonders and mysteries of the vast empire which Jefferson had just purchased from France, —the first among Americans, and the third among men of any nationality, to cross the continent, Cabeza de Vaca, the Spaniard, in 1528-36, traveling from Florida through Texas and Mexico, being the first man of any race to accomplish this achievement, and Sir Alexander Mackenzie, the Scotchman, in Canada in 1793, being the second. From St. Louis also Lieutenant Zebulon M. Pike sailed up the Mississippi in 1805 to trace out the sources of that waterway. A year afterward, moving from the same starting point, he discovered the peak in the Rocky Mountains which bears his name, — the first instance, as Bryant said, in which “ the speech of England” gave a designation to any part of that range south of the Missouri River, — and carried the American flag to the Rio Grande, then Spanish territory, forty years before Zachary Taylor’s approach to that river precipitated the Mexican War. Major Stephen H. Long, in 1819, moved from the same base, using the first steamboat ever employed for government exploration in the interior of the country, went up the Missouri, and then struck across to the Arkansas and the Red rivers to ascertain the boundary between the United States and Spain as laid down by the treaty of 1819 by which Florida was annexed. A quarter of a century later, Fremont, with the same city as a headquarters, began that career as a pathfinder in the Rockies and conquistadore in California which gave him the picturesqueness and prominence that captivated the imagination of his fellow countrymen in his day, and secured for him the nomination for President in 1856 of the new Republican party.
When founded by Laclede and Chouteau back in 1764, under a patent from Louis XV., St. Louis was designed to be a post for the collection of peltries, and soon became the headquarters for this trade all over Upper Louisiana. Here John Jacob Astor, in 1819, established the western department of his fur company, and it remained the centre of the fur trade in the United States to a recent day. Here, too, for many years was the headquarters of the Indian agencies. The old and the new order among Indian fighters and pioneers met here. Daniel Boone, the last and most typical of the forest rangers, who had lived under two flags — the British and the American — while east of the Mississippi, and who was under three flags — the Spanish, French, and American — west of that stream, died in Missouri just as Kit Carson and Jim Bridger, the earliest and most eminent of plainsmen, were beginning their career at that point.
From Missouri’s metropolis were started the first trade relations ever established between the United States and the Spaniards and Mexicans in the Southwest. The commerce which was opened in an unpromising way with Santa Fé, New Mexico’s capital, by Auguste P. Chouteau and Julius P. Mun, in 1816, grew eventually to represent millions of dollars a year. It was carried by long trains of wagons whose story is invested with as much romance and mystery as that of the caravans laden with silks, cashmeres, spices, and precious stones which, moving from India to Europe, passed from the Persian Gulf up the valleys of the Euphrates and the Tigris to the Black Sea in the days of Marco Polo. Previous to 1832 the eastern terminus of the Santa F£ trail was at Franklin, and afterward, until the railroad superseded the caravans, it was at Independence. Both are Missouri towns, but the headquarters and distributing point for the trade were in St. Louis.
In Missouri began all the historic trails which, in the days before the advent of the railroads, were traversed by the immigrants and the explorers on the route to all parts of the West from New Mexico and California to Oregon. It was over one of these — that from Santa Fé to St. Louis on part of his course — that Marcus Whitman made that wild ride of several months in the winter of 1842-43 from the valley of the Columbia to Washington, to warn President Tyler and Congress that the British were preparing, through the importation of colonists from Canada, to secure Oregon, then dominated by the British monopoly — the Hudson’s Bay Company. Over another route, that leading from Westport, on the site of the present Kansas City, by way of the South Pass, Whitman returned in the summer of 1843, leading 800 immigrants with 200 wagons to the basin of the Columbia, and started the movement of Americans thither which won Oregon for the United States in the treaty with England in 1846. Through Missouri also passed part of the Mormons in their hegira from Nauvoo when they set up their Zion in the Salt Lake valley.
Now let us see how these conflicting conditions registered themselves in Missouri’s politics. Slavery drew the state toward the Democracy, while the state’s mineral wealth and its manufactures, which caused a demand for tariffs for protection, pulled it toward the Democracy’s successive antagonists, — the National Republican, the Whig, and the Republican parties. The slavery influence, supplemented by other considerations after slavery was abolished, was, on the whole, the stronger.
A few facts, however, which are often lost sight of by writers on American politics, must be kept in view, in order that the history of the West in general, and that of Missouri in particular, in the days before the Civil War may be understood. The objection to slavery was not, in the free section of the country, so widespread or intense when Missouri was asking for admission as it became a quarter of a century later. The importance of slavery in Missouri’s industrial system was less than it was in any other of the fifteen states in which it existed. Relatively, slavery declined in Missouri from 1830 onward to emancipation. Many of Missouri’s dominant party, the Democracy, were personally opposed to slavery, and went into the Republican party when, by the repeal of the Missouri Compromise in 1854, the Whig party was destroyed, and the Free-Soilers, Abolitionists, and anti-slavery elements of the Whig, Democratic, and Know-Nothing organizations were swept into the coalition which adopted the Republican name.
In the free states west of the Alleghanies there was, at the outset, a powerful sentiment in favor of slavery. By the sixth section of the ordinance of 1787 the further introduction of slavery into the territory north of the Ohio River was prohibited, but some slaves remained in one or two of the states of that locality until near the middle of this century. It was only by a majority of one that a proposition to introduce slavery into Ohio was defeated in the convention which framed the constitution of that state in 1802, and the anti-negro legislation known as the “ black code ” was not entirely swept away in Ohio until 1887. In the early days of the territory of Indiana William Henry Harrison, its governor, and delegate conventions appealed year after year to Congress to permit slavery to enter that locality. In the Illinois legislature of 1823—24 a proposition was carried by a two-thirds vote to hold a convention to alter the state’s constitution, the principal change desired being the elimination of the slavery exclusion clause, the aim being to align Illinois with Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina, and the rest of the slave states. After one of the most exciting contests which ever occurred in the state the proposition for a new convention was beaten when it got before the people, and the state was saved to freedom, but Illinois, like Indiana, refused to join the Republican party until 1860. The Ohio River did not really become an extension of Mason and Dixon’s line until after the repeal of the Missouri Compromise in 1854 gave slavery an equal chance with freedom in territory from which slavery had been excluded by that adjustment. It was then that the northern section of the agricultural West broke from the agricultural South and left the Democratic party; though Indiana and Illinois remained in partisan harmony with Missouri and the slave section in general until Lincoln’s first election.
The Democrats controlled Missouri almost without interruption from 1821 to 1861, though often by only small majorities, and in the mineral producing and manufacturing districts there was a decided leaning toward the successive antagonists of the Democracy. There was a strong current of anti-slavery feeling in one section of that party, and it asserted itself when, in 1849, the legislature adopted the Jackson resolutions, — so called from the fact that Claiborne F. Jackson, who was the secessionist governor of the state in 1861, was chairman of the committee which reported them, — pledging Missouri, through its representatives in Congress, to assist the other slave states against all attempts to exclude slavery from the territories. Thomas H. Benton, then near the end of his thirty years’ service in the Senate, denounced the resolutions as aiming to disrupt the Union, refused to obey them, declared that slavery was an evil which he would neither sanction himself nor impose upon others, and appealed to the people of the state upon that issue.
This split the Democracy in Missouri. The Benton, or anti-slavery element, was led by Francis P. Blair, Jr., B. Gratz Brown, Arnold Krekel, John D. Stephenson, and Richard A. Barrett. The most prominent pro-slavery Democrats were Benton’s colleague in the Senate, David R. Atchison, Governor Sterling Price, and Jackson. Benton was beaten for reelection, retired from the Senate in 1851, but kept up the fight, was elected to the House in 1852, in which body he made a powerful speech against the repeal of the Missouri Compromise ; was defeated in 1854 in attempting to get a second term, and was beaten in 1856 as the anti-slavery Democratic candidate for governor. The proslavery section of the Democracy controlled the state until the Civil War. Most of Benton’s Democratic supporters joined the Republican party at its appearance in 1854. Benton himself advocated the election of Buchanan in 1856, against his own son-in-law, John C. Fremont, the Republican nominee, but he did this because he feared a triumph for the Republicans would send the South out of the Union, though he turned against Buchanan in 1857 when the latter fell under the influence of the Southern extremists and attempted to force slavery upon Kansas. Benton died in 1858, but would undoubtedly have supported Lincoln had he lived to 1860, for he detested the secessionists, who had Breckinridge for a candidate in that year, and despised Douglas, whom he had, while in the House, denounced for repealing the Missouri Compromise and bringing slavery up in a portentous phase.
Missouri gave only 17,000 votes to Lincoln in 1860, but Breckinridge got only 31,000, as compared with 59,000 for Douglas, the nominee of the Northern section of the Democrats, and 58,000 for Bell, the candidate of the Constitutional Union party of ex-Whigs and ex-Know-Nothings. Thus the aggregate vote of the three Unionist ingredients of the citizens of Missouri was 134,000, as against 31,000 for the disunionists. In 1861 the secessionist faction, whose master spirit was Governor Jackson, was beaten in the convention held to decide whether Missouri was to leave the Union or remain in it, the popular vote on delegates to the convention showing a majority of 80,000 for the Unionist side, whose most active leader was Blair. Missouri was one of the four slave states which clung to the Union, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware being the others, and Kentucky was largely influenced in its course by Missouri. By throwing the immense weight of its resources and strategic position on the side of the government in this election for delegates, which was held several weeks before Lincoln’s inauguration ; by the prompt and vigorous blows by which Blair and General Lyon defeated the plottings of the disunionists, and by the 109,000 soldiers which it furnished to the Federal armies, Missouri pushed back the northern line of secession to the Arkansas River, weakened the grip of the Confederates upon the Mississippi, and contributed materially toward the triumph of the Union cause. By an ordinance of its constitutional convention adopted January 11, 1865, before the Thirteenth Amendment was submitted to the states, Missouri abolished slavery within its limits, and it was the only slave state which emancipated its slaves voluntarily.
The war of 1861-65 put the Republicans in control of Missouri. Lincoln in 1864 and Grant in 1868 carried it by large majorities, and two Republican governors — Thomas C. Fletcher and Joseph W. McClurg — were chosen, the latter of whom was elected in 1868. The Liberal Republicans, under the lead of B. Gratz Brown and Carl Schurz, in combination with the Democrats, carried the state in 1870, electing Brown governor, and every governor elected since then has been a Democrat.
Why did the Republicans so quickly and so completely lose their hold on Missouri ? Chiefly because of the adoption of the Drake constitution of 1866, popularly nicknamed the “ Draconian code,” Charles D. Drake being the controlling spirit in the convention which framed it. This constitution had some excellent features, one dealing with education being particularly admirable, but the provisions relating to the suffrage, particularly that part creating the test oath, aroused powerful opposition throughout the state. This was an oath of loyalty to the government, and nobody could vote, hold any state, county, or municipal office, practice law, teach in a secular or Sunday school, serve as a juror, preach the gospel, or solemnize marriage without taking this oath, while the offenses which were named were so numerous and so comprehensive that those who could take the oath without committing perjury were comparatively few.
Many of the Republican leaders in Missouri opposed the test oath, and in the election in June, 1865, to ratify oxreject the constitution of which it was a part, it got a majority of only 1862 out of a total poll of over 85,000, although nobody was permitted to vote unless he could have qualified under the terms of the constitution if it had already been in operation. General Francis P. Blair, the leading spirit among the Unionists and Republicans, refused to take the oath, and brought suit against the registering officers for denying him permission to vote. Father John A. Cummings, who had been indicted for administering the rites of his church without taking the oath, brought the case before the Supreme Court of the Uixited States, and that tribunal, in January, 1867, declared the test oath unconstitutional.
The discriminations against ex-Confederates still imposed by the constitution were opposed by many Republicans, and these, who took the name of Liberal Republicans, led by B. Gratz Brown and Carl Schurz, bolted the regular convention in 1870, organized another convention, put up Brown for governor, and he was supported by the Democrats and elected. That was the beginning of the Liberal Republican party, which put up Greeley and Brown for President and Vice President l’espectively in 1872, and were supported by the Democracy. At the election of 1870, at which Brown was chosen governor, amendments were ratified abolishing the test oath and the disfranchisement clause. Thus the Republicaixs of Missouri were weakened by the secession of the Brown, Schurz, and Blair elements, and the Democrats were strengthened by the removal of the disabilities from the ex-Confederates. The Democratic party at once went to the front, elected the governor chosen in 1872, and has been dominant in the state ever since.
Nobody in the party which was responsible for the Drake constitution defends that instrument now. It should be remembered, however, that passion blazed fiercely all over the country in 1865. Missouri had suffered seriously by the war. Many battles were fought in the state. The movements of armies continued in it for neai’ly four years. The state furnished 109,000 men to the Union army, and 30,000 to the Confederacy. Out of the Union contingent 14,000 were killed in battle or died of wounds or disease. Tens of thousands of people in the region harried by the contending armies moved out of the state. Immense losses of property were occasioned. Society was disorganized. These conditions explain, though they do not excuse, the legislation directed against the element which the Union party conceived to be the authors of the state’s woes.
But let it not be inferred that politics in Missouri is so one-sided that the minority party is hopelessly in the minority. The state’s great natural wealth enabled it to recover so quickly from the effects of the war of 1861-65 that whereas it stood thirteenth on the roll of states in population in 1850, and eighth in 1860, it had jumped to fifth in 1870, and it has held that rank ever since. The only states which lead it in population are New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Ohio. Prosperity brought a softening of the asperities caused by the Civil War, and this has gradually narrowed the gap between the vote of the two great parties.
While the Democrats have elected all the governors chosen in Missouri since 1872, the Republicans carried it for the part of the ticket (minor state officers) elected in 1894, and also carried one branch of the legislature in that year, and ten of the state’s fifteen members of Congress. The Democrats cast fiftythree per cent of the vote of the state for President in 1896, but in that year they were in alliance with the Populists. Their proportion of the total vote of the state in 1898 for Supreme Court judge was only fifty-one per cent. In the state’s larger cities, particularly in St. Louis, the Republicans have been predominant for years. Among the Germans, who have been an important ingredient in Missouri’s population since the later “ fifties,” the Republican party has always been particularly strong. The balance is getting so close in Missouri that the ideal political condition must soon be at hand when the two great parties will be forced by self-interest always to nominate their cleanest and ablest men, and to put forward a policy which will mean economy, efficiency, and progress.
Charles M. Harvey.